If the fan devotion on display today at PaleyFest New York translates into viewership, Hulu seems to have made a sound decision to pick up The Mindy Project after Fox unceremoniously canceled it earlier this year. At a panel moderated by TV Guide’s Damian Holbrook and attended by creator Mindy Kaling and her co-stars and writers, the crowd responded like long-lost friends. (Remote viewers weren’t so lucky – the PaleyFest’s live stream was full of glitches).
As is usually the case for Paley panel discussions, details about upcoming developments for the ongoing fourth season, which began September 15, were sparse. Spoilerphobes needn’t worry.
But as with the show’s TCA panel earlier this summer, the panelists suggested the show will continue developing its feminist themes balanced against characters and comedic tone. Kaling, when asked by one audience member to describe the best constructive criticism she’d received, talked about advice given by BJ Novak, her colleague from The Office, who encouraged her to make sure to keep her Dr Mindy character vulnerable without compromising her accomplishments.
During the current season Dr. Mindy and Chris Messina’s Danny Castellano have had a child, a development that naturally raises the age-old sitcom problem: Are happy families ever as interesting as star-crossed lovers? Leave it to the writers, Kaling insisted.
“If a relationship becomes boring because they got married or had a kid, it’s because the characters are bad,” she said. “Those things make people more interesting, their situations more conflicting in their dynamic.” As she sees it, the introduction of a baby is an opportunity for the series. “The fact that it’s not just about [Dr. Mindy] elevates the story,” Kaling continued. “She has to figure out how to take care of something other than herself.”
The panel also included costars Ike Barinholtz, Ed Weeks, Beth Grant, and Xosha Roquemore plus writer-producer Matt Warburton and fellow writers Charlie Grandy, Tracey Wigfield, Lang Fisher, Chris Schleicher, and David Stassen.
* Roquemore’s spot-on Alanis Morrisette impression, after one fan asked the cast members to sing something.
* Kaling noted how she first discovered Roquemore in the film Precious, marveling at the only comedic moment in an otherwise brutally sad film. “Guess who was really funny in Precious?”, she said the next day at The Office.